Islamic Universities as Actors in Democratization Processes: A Comparative-Historical Analysis of IAIN/UIN Syarif Hidayatullah Jakarta and al-Zaytuna University Tunis

This dissertation explores the role state Islamic universities have played during the democratic transitions in Indonesia (1998-2004) and Tunisia (2011-2014). It introduces state Islamic universities and their Islamic academic milieux as a new actor category to the political science literature which...

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Bibliographic Details
Main Author: Seeth, Amanda tho
Contributors: Derichs, Claudia (Prof. Dr.) (Thesis advisor)
Format: Doctoral Thesis
Published: Philipps-Universität Marburg 2020
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Summary:This dissertation explores the role state Islamic universities have played during the democratic transitions in Indonesia (1998-2004) and Tunisia (2011-2014). It introduces state Islamic universities and their Islamic academic milieux as a new actor category to the political science literature which examines the agency of religious actors in democratization processes. The study defines universities’ democratic behavior through the dependent variable “pro-democracy engagement”, which is operationalized by a discursive indicator (university’s public outreach through media articles written by university rector), an institutional indicator (university’s socialization of students through curriculum), and a mobilizing indicator (university’s topics of research projects and corresponding government counseling activity based on research findings). The qualitative content analysis of a large corpus of original Indonesian and Tunisian source material (curricula, research reports, media articles, university publications, university activities, statutes, and policies) finds that in the Indonesian case study the Islamic university’s pro-democracy engagement was very strong, while the Tunisian Islamic university manifested itself as an ivory tower and in political passivity. Moreover, it is worked out that the Indonesian Islamic university received effective support by external actors—domestic and foreign—to mobilize for democracy on campus as well as in the wider public sphere, while the Tunisian Islamic university was largely isolated and lacked external support. In contrast to existing scholarship that explains religious actors’ democratic agency during transition processes by institutional independence, this dissertation argues that in the case of the specific actor category of state Islamic universities, which are per se extensions of the state and institutionally highly dependent on state authority, the explanatory pattern must be shifted and extended to put more focus on the role of universities’ resources and their relationships to external actors. By drawing on theories of historical institutionalism, path dependence, and Pierre Bourdieu’s works on capital endowment as an enabling factor for political agency, the dissertation engages in a comparative-historical analysis and process tracing of the relationship between the Indonesian and Tunisian Islamic academic milieux and the respective political powers as well as the former’s access to resources. This longue durée perspective reveals the complex political history of the Indonesian and Tunisian Islamic academic milieux, ranging back to the pre-colonial era, and identifies for each case study the individual sequences (initial conditions, critical juncture, reinforcement, outcome) of a path-dependent trajectory from which a generalized path-dependent scheme for the emergence of pro-democratic political agency of Islamic universities during democratization processes is deducted. The key independent variable which caused the Indonesian Islamic university’s strong degree of pro-democracy engagement during democratization is identified as Bourdieu’s “delegated political capital”—a capital form which is provided by political authorities to agents for the purpose of fostering alliance and aiming to politicize the agent so that he engages in political mobilization and legitimization. Over time, delegated political capital triggers the development of an overall large capital endowment of the agent—including material, social, intellectual and symbolic resources—and the institutionalization of the agent within the political arena. As a consequence of this strong capital endowment and competency in the world of politics, external actors are attracted who collaborate with and further invest into the agent for their own interests, and by that reproducing and strengthening his status as a political actor. Through its in-depth comparative-historical analysis, the dissertation unpacks that in both the Indonesian and Tunisian case study the critical juncture of the path-dependent processes occured during the rule of non-Western imperial powers over what is today Indonesia and Tunisia. These powers, Japan 1942-1945 in Indonesia and the Ottomans in Tunisia 1574-1876, intervened into the indigenous structure of the Islamic academic milieux and their capital endowment, initiating crucial institutional changes which led to Islamic academia’s contrasting levels of politicization and access to resources. Also, in both cases, the decision to either politicize or depoliticize the Islamic academic milieu was based on the empires’ different approaches towards religion during their internal modernization projects (Japanese Meiji restauration 1868-1912; Ottoman Tanzimat reforms 1839-1876). The dissertation details how after the critical junctures long periods of institutional reinforcement unfolded, which manifested diverging characteristics of Islamic academia: in Indonesia a politically well-versed one, possessing a high capital endowment, emerged while in Tunisia a politically unexperienced one, lacking capital endowment, was institutionalized. The dissertation thus demonstrates that at the time of the collapse of authoritarianism, Islamic universities and their milieux were dramatically differently prepared and intrinsically motivated to become political actors with a pro-democratic agenda. Moreover, as a result of these long-term developments, during democratization, external actors opted for different approaches towards Islamic universities in Indonesia and Tunisia.
Physical Description:322 Pages